Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that night safari at wildlife sanctuaries was in fashion globally as he sought to dismiss the controversy over his jeep ride along with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev at the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) after dusk.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the three-day ‘Chintan Shivir’, Sarma claimed that no law in the country, including those for the protection of wildlife, prohibit entry into forest areas after sunset.
“Going to wildlife sanctuaries at night is in fashion across the world. Places like Singapore have been doing it,” he said.
The controversy over the jeep safari with the Sadhguru is, in fact, creating a negative impression about the state and its people as it shows Assam inviting an esteemed guest and then creating a fuss over it, he said.
With Sarma by his side, Sadhguru drove the vehicle on Saturday evening to tour a part of the national park along with other dignitaries. Sadhguru was here for the inauguration of the ‘Chintan Shivir’.
Sarma and Sadhguru were criticised for going into the forest in the dark with headlights blazing, while a police complaint has also been filed by locals, alleging violation of wildlife protection laws.
“What will happen if an FIR has been given against me? I have not broken any law,” Sarma said.
“Let them show which provision of the wildlife protection laws I have violated, and which law says that one cannot enter at night,” he added.
Sarma also said that if the chief minister is not allowed to enter the park, how will he know what is happening inside it.
Sadhguru came here as a guest and not as a common tourist, and the KNP director was himself in the backseat of the vehicle driven by him, the chief minister said.
“He went wherever the KNP director took him. Now, how can the director say that rules were broken… It is the responsibility of the Forest Department to explain the rules,” the chief minister maintained.
Sarma said that Kaziranga will witness more tourist footfall because of the visits by Sadhguru and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who came here on the second day of the ‘Chintan Shivir’ on Sunday.
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